Usually, when a game finishes with a remarkably one-sided scoreline, the two teams are horribly mismatched. Yet that was hardly the case for a recent boys basketball game between Ellwood City (Pa.) High and Mohawk (Pa.) High, a matchup which Mohawk won by a final score of 51-4 … after Ellwood City had won an earlier meeting between the two schools 53-33.
Yes, you read those final scores correctly. In early January, Ellwood City knocked off Mohawk by 20 points in what seemed like a one-sided game. That was all put in perspective during the last week of the month when Mohawk won by 47 in a game where Ellwood City shot just 1-for-38 from the field and 2-for-6 at the free throw line. Mohawk led 37-0 at halftime and 45-1 after three quarters.
So, how did this kind of a swing between two games possibly happen? For his part, Ellwood City boys basketball coach Al Campman -- who has been coaching high school basketball for more than 30 years -- told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette he still can't quite get his head around what happened.
"You had to be there to comprehend it," Campman told the Post Gazette. "The word baffled doesn't do justice," Campman said. "Baffled would mean the other team was playing some 1-3-1 chaser defense with a half-court trap, and I'm calling four timeouts trying to figure out what to do. That's baffling. There was nothing baffling to it. We just missed every shot."
Incredibly, the stats show that quote is almost literally true. Missing 37 shots in the course of 32 minutes is pretty startling. Hitting just one while missing those 37 is even more confusing.
And the bizarre twists kept coming days later, when Ellwood City rebounded from its horrid loss with a 64-43 victory against Laurel (Pa.) High less than a week later, a game in which the Wolverines hit seven 3-pointers alone.
While Campman couldn't make logical sense of the true magnitude of his team's loss, he told the Post Gazette that the humbling experience has reinforced what it is like to be patient as a coach, and how to use such a crushing event as a true teaching experience.
"I handled it the way I would want a kid to handle it. I never raised my voice at them," Campman said. "I just coached. There is nothing to say to make them feel better.
"I have to continue to just coach. I have to coach on how to attack a zone better. I told the kids that if this is the worst thing that is ever going to happen to them in their lives, then they're going to have a successful life."